07/07: War on Britain: 20 BODIES STILL DOWN THERE; Bomb Terror Toll Could Reach 70

The Mirror (London, England), July 9, 2005 | Go to article overview

07/07: War on Britain: 20 BODIES STILL DOWN THERE; Bomb Terror Toll Could Reach 70


Byline: By GRAHAM BROUGH and JEFF EDWARDS, Chief Crime Correspondent

RESCUE workers 150ft below ground toiled yesterday in "unimaginable" conditions to reach the dead from the worst of London's three Tube bombs.

Twenty bodies were still in the mangled wreckage of the Piccadilly Line train, in addition to the 21 known to have died.

Thirteen were confirmed dead aboard the blown-up No 30 bus and a total of 16 from the other two Tube blasts. That would put the overall toll at 70.

Relatives of the missing also made heart-rending pleas for help. Yvonne Nash, 30, who fears her boyfriend Jamie Gordon, also 30, was on the bus said: "Is he dead? Is he alive? Not knowing is dreadful. I just have to find him."

Police launched Britain's biggest manhunt for the killers - suspected of links to al-Qaeda - who struck four times in 56 minutes on Thursday. Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair vowed: "We will not rest until we find them. We will be relentless."

Film from an estimated 2,000 CCTV systems was being seized.

Sir Ian said the victims came from five countries apart from Britain, and said: "This was an attack not only on London but on human beings from all over the world."

In the Piccadilly Line tunnel - amid searing heat and with the roofs of both tunnel and train shored up to prevent collapse, the battle to retrieve the 20 bodies was an excruciating task.

It was further complicated by the need to avoid disturbing clues to the terrorist blast at 8.56am.

The bomb, it has emerged, was by the doors of the first carriage of the rush-hour train, heading from King's Cross to Russell Square with several hundred people aboard.

Some survivors of the black hell that followed took hours to reach daylight - picking their way to the back of the train before edging along the track to King's Cross.

The search for bodies was being conducted in a tunnel just 10ft 6in wide, typical of the deepest-dug Tube lines. A carriage is 8ft 7in wide - leaving a foot of space either side.

Andy Trotter, British Transport Police Deputy Chief Constable, told The Mirror: "These are extremely difficult conditions. There are vermin, there are the remains of people's loved ones, there are the remnants of fumes from the explosion.

"As anyone working in a mine will know there is also intolerable heat because of the depth underground, and they are working in very confined conditions.

"It will take some time I think to remove the people there."

Police and firemen reached the first carriage, saw charred and severed remains and confirmed no one survived the immediate area of the blast.

Firemen with experience of "burn patterns" established the bomb was on the floor by the doors in the first carriage.

Rescuers managed to free dozens of passengers, many who had lost limbs.

Fire officers with specialist knowledge of identifying bodies were at the scene yesterday. It is not clear how the bomb was detonated. Given the depth of the tunnel, a mobile phone signal is unlikely.

Meanwhile, the distraught face of Yvonne Nash summed up the despair of those seeking lost loved ones.

Yvonne, an events marketing manager for Orange, said boyfriend Jamie Gordon had phoned work in the City at 9.42am yesterday to say he was on a bus from Euston to King's Cross, just five minutes before the blast. He has not been heard from since and has not returned any calls or texts to his mobile.

A trace had placed it in the vicinity of the blast but the line had gone dead at about 3pm. …

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